We can't know what was going through this mom's mind, but Santana Adams of Milton, West Virginia, has been charged with falsely accusing a man of trying to kidnap her 5-year-old daughter at the mall.
Last Monday night (Ap. 1) Adams, 24, told the police that a stranger at the Old Navy store in Barboursville, WV, "grabbed the child by the hair and attempted to pull her away." The girl then "dropped to the floor with the male still pulling her." As WSAZ reported :
The woman told police she pulled out a gun and the man quickly left the scene.
The mom told mall security what happened. A short time later they along with the Barboursville Police Department spotted the suspect walking near the food court where he was taken into custody.
Hero mom thwarts predator with gun! That's what must have appeared to be the case when the accused man, Mohamed Fathy Hussein Zayan, was thrown in jail. Zayan is an Egyptian here on a work visa.
But the case against him quickly began to unravel.
First, the mom told investigators that on second thought, maybe the whole thing was a "cultural misunderstanding." Maybe the guy had just been trying to pat her daughter's head.
By Tuesday, Zayan was released from the Western Regional Jail -- weeping openly as he was greeted by his co-workers.
By Thursday night he was a free man, after the prosecutor, Sean "Corky" Hammers, dismissed all charges. Hammers had reviewed the evidence, including surveillance video of the two shoppers calmly leaving the store at slightly different times, going in opposite directions. When Zayan had been arrested later that evening at the mall's food court he'd been completely stunned and confused. He'd actually been at Old Navy to shop for his own daughter. His public defender, Michelle Protzman, vowed to make sure the case is expunged.
By Friday afternoon the tables had completely turned and Adams found herself facing charges for accusing Zayan of a crime that did not happen. She could get up to a $500 fine and six months in jail.
Now perhaps you're wondering why someone would make up such a preposterous story?
For the last couple of years, there's been a string of moms breathlessly posting on Facebook that they were just at the mall (or Ikea, or Target), when suddenly they realized that they were being stalked by a kidnapper clearly planning to snatch their kids and sex traffic them.
The evidence is usually something like, "I saw a guy staring at my baby." Or, "I saw the couple in one aisle and then I went down a different aisle and there they were AGAIN!" Or, "I looked outside and there was a van with its door open!"
Inevitably, the mom congratulates herself on having had the wherewithal to figure out what was going on just in time, and bravely thwart the heinous crime by...um...staring the guys down or something. Then they usually say something like, "If it happened to me it could happen to you!" without reminding readers that, in fact, nothing DID happen. No one grabbed a kid. No one sex trafficked anyone. (In fact, the head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, David Finkelhor, says he knows of ZERO cases of a child kidnapped from a parent in public and sex trafficked.) It's all in the mom's heads.
Yet they get thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of shares.
Here's one story. Here's another and another and another and another (that also happens to be about Egyptians). And here's one that went mega-viral a few years back. You get the idea. It's a panic, with a twist: Adulation.
The mom ends up the hero of the non-event, basking in comments like, "Thank you for sharing this!" and, "So glad you are safe!" and, "You are such a strong, conscientious mama!"
Hear that long enough and you might even think a guy who may or may not have patted your daughter's head is a kidnapper who should be shot on sight. Imagine the likes!
If only this West Virginia story could go as viral as the my-kid-was-almost-sex-trafficked posts.